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Police say they have a suspect in baby's death

June 16, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Investigators have developed a suspect in the death of a baby whose body was found under the U.S. 340 bridge in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., in March, Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said Tuesday.

Police began focusing on the person shortly after the baby's body was found, Boober said.

If the person was not responsible for the baby's death, Boober said he believes the suspect at least has knowledge about the case.

"This is definitely not a shut case. We feel pretty strong about what we have going," said Cpl. Dave Colbert, who is investigating the baby's death.

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As part of the probe, investigators took a blood sample from the baby and the suspect and sent the samples to an FBI lab in Washington, D.C., about three weeks ago, Boober said.

The blood samples are being analyzed to determine if a DNA link exists between the two, Boober said.

Boober said he does not know how long the tests will take.

"They indicated they would do it as expeditiously as possible," Boober said.

If the DNA tests determine that the suspect has no involvement in the case, there are other people police will pursue, Boober said.

A local FBI agent on Tuesday emphasized the importance of people forwarding any information they might have about the baby's death to authorities.

"If there is any new information out there we would certainly like to have it. That would help us a great deal," said Ray West, an FBI agent in Martinsburg, W.Va.

West declined to talk about additional details of the case.

The baby's body was found March 21 by a Harpers Ferry National Historical Park ranger who went to the area on another call, deputies said.

The ranger thought a bag, which was found on the Harpers Ferry side of the river, contained garbage, police said.

But after realizing the bag probably was too heavy to contain only garbage, the ranger opened it and found the body.

The body, to which the umbilical cord was still attached, was wrapped in a pink sheet, then a white sheet. The bundle was placed in a garbage bag with three 5-pound barbells, police said.

That bag was placed in another plastic garbage bag, which was loosely tied.

Investigators have said they believe someone was trying to throw the bag into the river. They later said the baby likely died from injuries sustained in the impact with the ground.

Shortly after the body was found, police said they had developed a list of "persons of interest." The people were not suspects, but were people with whom police wanted to speak, Colbert said at the time.

Although that work is important, Colbert said he believed a successful resolution of the case would depend on someone contacting the sheriff's department to provide information.

After the baby's body was found, deputies received phone calls from people wanting to make sure the baby had a proper burial and wanting to donate money for the service.

The infant, which was named Baby Christian, was buried in Edge Hill Cemetery off Congress Street in Charles Town.

Anyone with information about the baby can call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department at 304-728-3205 or the FBI at 304-263-3421.

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